Sea and wellbeing itinerary

Follow the route

Costa Azzurra beach

Known locally as the "old beach", the Costa Azzurra Beach lies in the westernmost side of the Island of Grado between the so-called "Dam", officially known as the Nazario Sauro Promenade, and the mouth of the tidal port of "La Fosa". It stretches over 8,500 square metres, facing the open sea of the North Adriatic Gulf. The shore belongs to Colmata di San Vito, the district planned in 1946 by the architect and urban planner from Grado, Vigilio De Grassi, who had studied under Max Fabiani in Vienna and in the 1920s, had led the restoration of the Basilica of Santa Maria delle Grazie and the Cathedral of Sant'Eufemia. Together with his brother Placido, an engineer, he outlined the fundamentally important Town Plan to develop urban planning on the island. Going back to our "Costa Azzurra", don't forget entry is free and some areas are licensed to hire out beach equipment. The original beach facility was opened in 1954, when the entrepreneur Sergio Marin was the first to obtain the appropriate licence, and it is still a family-run business. This family tradition goes back to the time of Gugliemo Marin, owner of the first kiosk in Grado, which still stands on a sort of piling, together with another historic building in Grado. The solar panel- powered kiosk at the current beach facility has chosen to focus on a completely plastic-free service and has been awarded the much sought-after certification from Legambiente Ecospiagge [Italian Eco-tourism label]. The entire beach is divided between other businesses and facilities. However, green areas and children's play areas make Grado's "Costa Azzurra" ideal for families with young children. The different depths of the water compared to the main beach make swimming here especially enjoyable for the more expert swimmers. Young bathers are also attracted by the possibility to play beach volleyball and five-a-side football. Last but not least, the numerous kiosks and little restaurants give you a chance to cool down and have something to eat and drink, with musical events and varied entertainment held on summer evenings. Behind the beach on the side overlooking the lagoon lies Porto San Vito, a first-class marina, which has once again received the F.E.E.'s (Foundation for Environmental Education) prestigious "Blue Flag", awarded to tourist landing places and beaches. Boats of a considerable size can also drop anchor in Porto San Vito, which has over 150 moorings and about fifteen for boats passing through. The depth of the seabed at the entrance and quayside is guaranteed to be 3.50 metres. Lastly, the shipyard offers spaces for winter storage and maintenance, not forgetting craft restoration and the construction of sailing boats. To complete the offer, tourists can find accommodation and catering in two separate buildings

Promenade Nazario Sauro

Commonly known as the "Dam", where lovely walks are a must and not just in summer, the various panoramic viewpoints of the Nazario Sauro Promenade offer spectacular views over most of the the Upper Adriatic Gulf. On a clear day, you can gaze across the sea from Trieste to Istria on the left, whereas to the right you get a glimpse of the skyline of Lignano Sabbiadoro, the seaside resort good-naturedly said to be Grado's "competitor". In modern times, our seaside walk, like a stretch of the "Rive" in nearby Trieste, was named after the Italian irredentist: a rather curious fact, if we think that the origins of our Promenade date back to the Austro-Hungarian Grado, when its main function was as a breakwater to protect the historic town centre. The post-war era, on the other hand, saw the creation of a proper walkway, which hosts open-air events with music, food and wine during the summer season against the natural backdrop of the open sea. Apart from its day-to-day upkeep, the space between the "old" beach and today's Costa Azzurra and Piazza Giardini Giovanni Palatucci is constantly being improved: this green space at the start of Grado's main beach features a beautiful, mosaic fountain and was named after the last acting head of the Italian Police Headquarters of Fiume, who was deported and died in Dachau and acknowledged as one of the "Righteous among the Nations". Nature and history appear to blend inseparably in Grado: historic monuments commemorating the 2nd World War above all and the particularly difficult post-war era along our border stand the length of and close to the Promenade. As we have already said, the "Dam" protects the Venice-like, old town against the sea storms to the south-west. Squashed together in just a few hectares are a couple of hundred traditional houses with a variety of chimney-pots, "balaori" or external little staircases and walkways and "fogoleri in fora" or avant-corps for the fireplaces. It's really lovely to wander aimlessly through the labyrinth of alleys and picturesque forecourts and tiny squares, which have developed over the ancient Castrum over the years. Going back to our seaside walk, we find other memories from the past represented, for example, by relatively modern buildings, such as the "Zipser" and the block of the former "Pension Fortino". The name of the former recalls the holiday home of Dr. Guido Zipser which, in the early 20th century, welcomed many holidaymakers with its fantastic sea view. Today's block of flats is an unusual work by the architect, Marcello D'Olico, built in the early 1960s and internationally acknowledged by the Le Corbusier Foundation: the original project also included a hotel, which never opened. The apartments are mostly holiday homes and are "double-aspect" as they overlook both the sea and the town. A little further on, the Promenade bends slightly to reveal another, less impressive block of flats, built to transform an existing building, whose extremely beautiful decorations in the Viennese Secession style have unfortunately been lost. This used to be the former "Pension Fortino" belonging to Mr and Mrs Auchentaller, who were pioneers of the island's tourism. We should rightly remember the artistic fame of Josef Maria Auchentaller, whose name was linked to those of Gustav Klimt, Koloman Moser and Otto Wagner. Lastly, precisely between the two buildings mentioned above, behind the Town Hall lies the pedestrian area named after Pier Paolo Pasolini, who as an avant-garde film director shot some of the scenes for his film "Medea", starring Maria Callas, on the lagoon in 1969. As a controversial, literary man, Pasolini was in contact and in tune with our "Biaseto", in other words with Biagio Marin, poet and flag-bearer for Grado's dialect and culture.

G.I.T. Beach and Aquatic Park

Even though some “casotti,” or changing-rooms, already existed along the shore by the mid nineteenth century, Grado began as a seaside and therapeutic resort in 1873 with what was known as the “young people’s beach,” or rather the beach of the “scrovoleri”: these were the children suffering from tuberculosis or rickets, guests of the Ospizio Marino, which was the first of its kind during the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The beneficial effects of Grado’s fine sand, excellent sea water, pure air and mild marine climate led the Emperor Francis Joseph to officially acknowledge it as a Health Resort in the early summer of 1892. The first hotels, holiday homes and proper bathing establishments, featuring not only wooden piers and balconies, but also the traditional “tents”, became available for the increasing number of holidaymakers. The administration and management passed from the Azienda dei Bagni to Grado’s Curatorio per l’Amministrazione degli Stabilimenti Balneari. Biagio Marin, the island’s most famous bard, was appointed Director of the Organization in the mid-1920s. In 1933, the Tourist Information Board took over the work of the Curatorio and, in 1952, the Seaside Resort also became an official Health Resort. During the 90s, additional changes in management and administration led to the foundation of G.I.T. (Grado Impianti Turistici S.p.A.), which manages all the structures and facilities for the Main Beach, the thermal baths and the wellbeing centre with its thermal swimming pool. The GIT beach is equipped with cabins, sunshades, sunbeds and deckchairs and stretches for approximately three kilometres. It ideally faces south so it is bathed in sunlight throughout the day. The gradual slope of the seabed makes it extremely safe even for inexpert swimmers. During the holiday season, lifeguards and coast guards guarantee additional safety. Special attention has been paid to accessibility and the absence of physical barriers by introducing walkways and other structures or devices, which considerably improve the beach’s user-friendliness. Showers with water heated by solar panels, toilets, car parks, family areas and other useful facilities are found all along the beach. Grado’s top quality sea water, exceptionally clean beach and the care taken of the entire resort has meant it has been constantly awarded the FEE Blue Flag since 1989 without fail (a national record), and can guarantee excellent levels of protection for tourists and residents alike. Even the most demanding guests are happy with the numerous facilities on this beach, which include a more exclusive area, a sports area and one for mothers and their babies. Last but not least, the Lido di Fido, Grado’s dog beach, enables dog owners and their 4-legged friends to spend truly relaxing days with all the latest comforts by the sea. Overlooking the beach there are plenty of places to eat and traditional kiosks offering tasty refreshments. Organised sports and cultural events are also held during the summer. The Aquatic Park surrounded by greenery leading straight off the beach in the Città Giardino (Town-Garden) area is open from June to September. Designed for the enjoyment of young and old, it has an 85-metre long, curved, sea-water swimming pool, with cascade water jets, a channel for swimming upstream, hydromassage and underwater benches for air bubble massages, all for your physical wellbeing. If you feel a bit more athletic, there are also trampolines, water slides and children’s games. There’s a ‘solarium,’ an immense relaxation area with an elegant gazebo, brand new sunshades and comfortable sunbeds. With a couple of bars, one of which has underwater seating, the Aquatic Park also offers its guests a panoramic terrace with a Whirlpool and many other facilities and opportunities: Grado Impianti Turistici organizes a wide range of entertainment, various gym activities and group dances for everyone to enjoy.

Marine Thermal Baths

We have to go back to Grado under imperial rule to talk about the origins of its Marine Thermal Baths: in fact, on 25 June 1892 the island was officially recognised as a Spa and the specific Spa Company was founded according to a law by Emperor Franz Joseph, published in the Bulletin of Laws and Orders for the Austrian Littoral. Official science of the time had just included the health properties of sea water and sand among the therapeutic treatments for human health. A couple of decades before that institutive law, the Florentine doctor, Giuseppe Barellai, came to visit our area. He was well known for his philanthropic activities, which had led to the creation of the first Italian, marine Hospice in Viareggio in the mid-19th century. A Marine Hospice in Grado could have cured the poor children from the various Provinces of the Empire, suffering from scrofula and rickets. The beneficial, local micro-climate with minimal temperature range, excellent air with a high salt-iodine ratio, high water salinity and a fully exposed beach at midday led to the establishment of a Health Care District. At the same time, the first wooden bathing structure took just a few years to become the autonomous Institute of Bathing Establishments. Hapsburg Grado's rapid rise in quality before the 1st World War broke out, led to it becoming one of the top thermal and bathing resorts in the Empire. Unfortunately, the island's urban planning development did not progress at the same rate as in other European towns, devoted mainly to thermal and bathing spas. The "Ancient Thermal Baths" building, close to the main beach and currently under public management, resembles Grado's original thermal unit. The island therapies have focused not only on Thalassotherapy, but also on Psammo therapy throughout the 20th century until today. Furthermore, a project to develop and upgrade our Marine Thermal Baths began some time ago and will eventually include a range of offers from anti-age treatments to professional massages and a Solarium. Thermalisation of the sea water using a specific heating procedure remains fundamental, as it increases the benefits of hydro- and mineral spring therapies for various pathologies. The indoor swimming pools have large windows with a beautiful view over the shore and different services linked to the pools are guaranteed practically all year round. Inhalations and nebulisations complete the offer and it is understood that some of the thermal cures can be provided under agreements with the National Health Service, whereas others are offered privately. For almost twenty years, the Company G.I.T. (Grado Impianti Turistici) has successfully managed and continually improved the Marine Thermal Baths and the main beach. We like to think that perhaps, many centuries ago, the inhabitants of Grado's ancient "Castrum" used to live according to the Latin phrase “MENS SANA IN CORPORE SANO”…

Sacca Beach and Grado Pineta

These two additional Grado beaches, located in the central and easternmost part of the island, respectively, cannot boast of a 130-year bathing tradition like the Main Beach, but they help to provide an even more varied offer to meet the various needs of tourists, vacationers, “sea commuters” and residents. Access to these beaches is free, without the service ticket that instead is required to enter the beach in the centre of Grado; in addition, there are both concession areas, equipped with actual bathing establishments, and other completely open areas, where it is possible to use your own beach equipment. Sacca Beach and the Grado Pineta beach stand out for their virtually pristine nature and landscape, with dunes and naturally growing vegetation, as well as the wooded areas behind the beach. The shallow waters and the sand banks make these beaches appear particularly striking at low tide and provide a safe area for less experienced swimmers, as well as relaxing opportunities for those who love walking along the shoreline. Because of their innate tranquillity, both Sacca and Pineta are frequented above all by kitesurfers, also during the off-season. Over the years, both Città Giardino, and thus the “Sacca” area, and Grado Pineta have been linked to the city centre by a charming little train that runs during the high tourist season, for the enjoyment of both young and old. However, there is no lack of city and interurban bus service all year round, not to mention the beautiful bike path that crosses the island latitudinally. While kiosks and refreshment facilities are less frequent in the Sacca area, the Grado Pineta beach instead has several places that invite one for a pleasant stop. Lastly, Snoopy Beach in Grado Pineta is the ideal place for those who want to be at the beach with their dog, offering various services, shade and refreshments for people and their 4-legged friends.